Advanced Embedded System Modeling and Simulation in an Open Source RISC-V Virtual Prototype

Pascal Pieper, Vladimir Herdt, Rolf Drechsler

In: Teresa Cervero, Kevin Martin, Mario Kovač, Maurizio Martina (Hrsg.). Journal of Low Power Electronics and Applications (JLPEA) 12 4 (52) (Special Issue RISC-V Architectures and Systems: Hardware and Software Perspectives) MDPI 9/2022.


RISC-V is a modern Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) that, by its open nature in combination with a clean and modular design, has enormous potential to become a game changer in the Internet of Things (IoT) era. Recently, SystemC-based Virtual Prototypes (VPs) have been introduced into the RISC-V ecosystem to lay the foundation for advanced industry-proven system-level use-cases. However, VP-driven environment modeling and interaction have mostly been neglected in the RISC-V context. In this paper, we propose such an extension to broaden the application domain for virtual prototyping in the RISC-V context. As a foundation, we built upon the open source RISC-V VP available at GitHub. For a visualization of the environment purposes, we designed a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and designed appropriate libraries to offer hardware communication interfaces such as GPIO and SPI from the VP to an interactive environment model. Our approach is designed to be integrated with SystemC-based VPs that leverage a Transaction-Level Modeling (TLM) communication system to prefer a speed-optimized simulation. To show the practicability of an environment model, we provide a set of building blocks such as buttons, LEDs and an OLED display and configured them in two demonstration environments. Moreover, for rapid prototyping purposes, we provide a modeling layer that leverages the dynamic Lua scripting language to design components and integrate them with the VP-based simulation. Our evaluation with two different case-studies demonstrates the applicability of our approach in building virtual environments effectively and correctly when matching the real physical systems. To advance the RISC-V community and stimulate further research, we provide our extended VP platform with the environment configuration and visualization toolbox, as well as both case-studies as open source on GitHub.

Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence